This article is sponsored by ADA.
Like most people, marketers will remember the turn of this century as the epochal line that divided the pre and post-global pandemic worlds. Less common will be a consensus on what the future of marketing holds.
Marketing professionals will probably agree it will be more digital, more integrated, and more data-dependent, but what does that mean on the ground for clients? How will marketers reconcile persistent gaps between strategy and execution, data and technology, and spend and performance?
At ADA, we’ve spent the past few years building a new model of digital marketing transformation that’s not agency-led, but outcome-led, and integrated in terms of the customer, data, insights, technology, creative and eCommerce.
Srinivas Gattamneni, CEO of ADA, explains the approach in the Q&A below.
Q: How has ADA been doing since the onset of COVID-19 in 2020?
Gattamneni: The past year has been a period of tremendous growth for ADA. In many ways our business model was set up for times like these – as a company built on accelerating digital transformation for marketing, we have doubled our profit in the last year, and further scaled two new business lines in marketing technology (MarTech) and eCommerce, to meet client demand.
Our staff strength has jumped to nearly 800 from 500, and we continue to hire and expand on all fronts. The recent investment we received from SoftBank Corp has further accelerated our data and analytics capabilities in our integrated delivery of media, content and analytics for clients.
Q: What was the thinking behind ADA’s expansion into MarTech and eCommerce in 2021?
Gattamneni: In serving our clients, we deliver a true integrated offering that focuses on driving tangible business outcomes in a digital-first world. Our clients in South and Southeast Asia need integrated analytics, media, creative and MarTech to drive their top and bottom-line.
Superior performance can only be achieved by connecting the dots and making the flywheel work. By becoming deeply embedded with our clients, we’ve been able to partner with them to build the strategy upstream and then translate that into the execution downstream.
We help clients plan the strategy using data and analytics, and then we help them implement that strategy by getting into the trenches and doing the work alongside them. That’s what we mean by end-to-end integration.
Q: Tell us more about the merger with Awake Asia?
Gattamneni: The truth is, we were born to be merged. Awake Asia is a regional full-service eCommerce enabler which provides end-to-end solutions, including channel management, online store operations, supply chain management, fulfilment, and customer service.
The merger allowed ADA to round off the digital marketing value chain for clients – from data-driven content and creative at the top of the funnel through to data-driven eCommerce conversions. In other words, ensuring the entire digital customer journey delivers tangible business outcomes for our clients.
ADA can now bring its analytics, brand and media expertise to bear with full-service eCommerce enablement in 10 markets across South and Southeast Asia alongside 150 dedicated eCommerce specialists.
Our approach links digital spend and consumer analytics with eCommerce sales, leveraging on our data enrichment engine to derive shopper insights, personalise content and cross and upsell via eCommerce channels.
We’re also uniquely positioned to optimise customer touch-points across super apps and owned apps and websites, as well as to deploy MarTech solutions such as customer data platforms, and use attribution tools to track and improve conversions across the funnel.
Q: Since you mentioned MarTech, how does the new MarTech-as-a-Service business fit into the overall strategy?
Gattamneni: Simply put, as clients have enhanced their digital offerings and services via apps and websites, they’re in a position to upgrade the customer experience and upsell and cross-sell. For this, they need to assemble a MarTech stack tailored to their business objectives.
At ADA, we work with clients to unlock the full potential of their MarTech investments. The main goal of any MarTech stack is to optimise the customer journey as well as ramp-up growth across digital sales and marketing channels.
Before our clients embark on a journey of acquiring and onboarding the latest SaaS platforms, they need an expert who can not only partner with them to devise the long-term strategy, but also implement and operate in order to drive overall marketing effectiveness.
Our MarTech-as-a-Service was launched to help clients audit and choose the right MarTech solutions that are fit-for-purpose to their specific needs and level of MarTech maturity, with optimisation and growth as the true north.
Q: What does the future hold for marketing?
Gattamneni: It’s no longer enough to be data-driven – that’s the new baseline in marketing. Data, digital and eCommerce have leapt from hype to hygiene in less than the two years it took for COVID-19 to sweep across the globe.
Yet brands still default to dealing with each piece as if they were standalone entities. Successful is the marketer who can meld all three into a cohesive strategy.
What brands need is a flywheel powered by customer data, MarTech and online commerce to take their digital marketing transformation to the next level.